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From fhort ideas; and offend in arts
(As most in manners) by a love to parts.

Some to Conceit alone their tafte confine,
And glitt'ring thoughts ftruck out at ev'ry line; 290
Pleas'd with a work where nothing's juft or fit;
One glaring Chaos and wild heap of wit.
Poets like painters, thus, unskill'd to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover ev'ry part,
And hide with ornaments their want of art.
True Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er fo well exprefs'd;
Something, whose truth convinc'd at fight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind. 300
As fhades more fweetly recommend the light,
So modeft plainnefs fets off fprightly wit.


VER. 297. True Wit is Nature to advantage drefs'd, etc.] This definition is very exact. Mr. Locke had defined Wit to confift" in "the affemblage of ideas, and putting thofe together, with quick"ness and variety, wherein can be found any refemblance or con

gruity, whereby to make up pleasant pictures and agreeable "vifions in the fancy." But that great Philofopher, in feparating Wit from Judgment, as he does in this place, has given us (and he could therefore give us no other) only an account of Wit in general: In which false Wit, though not every species of it, is included. Aftriking Image therefore of Nature is, as Mr. Locke obferves, certainly Wit: But this image may ftrike on feveral other accounts, as well for its truth and beauty; and the Philofopher has explained the manner how. But it never becomes that Wit, which is the ornament of true Poefy, whofe end is to reprefent Nature, but when it dreffes that Nature to advantage, and prefents her to us in the brightest and most amiable light. And to know when the Fancy has done its office truly, the poet fubjoins this admirable Teft, viz. When we perceive that it gives us back the image of our mind. When it does that, we may be fure it plays no tricks with us: For this image is the creature of the Judgment; and whenever Wit correfponds with Judgment, we may fafely pronounce it to be


Naturam intueamur, hanc fequamur: id facillime accipiunt animi quod agnofcunt.". Quintil. lib. viii. c. 3.

For works may have more wit than does 'em good,
As bodies perish thro' excess of blood.


Others for Language all their care express, And value books, as women men, for drefs: Their praise is still,-the ftyle is excellent : The fenfe, they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves; and where they moft abound, Much fruit of fenfe beneath is rarely found. Falfe eloquence, like the prifmatic glafs, Its gaudy colours fpreads on ev'ry place; The face of Nature we no more survey, All glares alike, without diftin&tion gay : But true expreffion, like th' unchanging fun, 315 Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon, It gilds all objects, but it alters none. Expreffion is the drefs of thought, and fill Appears more decent, as more fuitable; A vile conceit in pompous words exprefs'd Is like a clown in regal purple dreft: For diff'rent flyles with diff'rent fubjects fort, As feveral garbs, with country, town, and court. Some by old words to fame have made pretence, Ancients in phrase, mere moderns in their fense; 325



VER. 311. Falle eloquence, like the prifmatic glafs, etc.] This fimile is beautiful. For the falfe colouring, given to objects by the prifmatic glafs, is owing to its untwifting, by its obliquities, those threads of light, which Nature had put together in order to fpread over its work an ingenious and fimple candour, that fhould not hide, but only heighten the native complexion of the objects. And falfe Eloquence is nothing else but the straining and divaricating the parts of true expreffion; and then daubing them over with what the Rhetoricians very properly term COLOURS; in lieu of that candid light, now loft, which was reflected from them in their. natural ftate while fincere and entire.


VER. 324. Some by old words, etc.] "Abolita et abrogata retinere, infolentiæ cujufdam eft, et frivolæ in parvis jactantiæ.' Quint. lib. 1. c. 6.

"Opus eft, ut verba à vetuftate repetita neque crebra fant

Such labour'd nothings, in fo ftrange a ftyle,

Amaze th' unlearn'd, and make the learned fmile.
Unlucky, as Fungofa in the play,"
These sparks with awkward vanity display
What the fine gentleman wore yesterday;
And but fo mimic ancient wits at beft,
As apes our grandfires in their doublets dreft.
In words, as fashions, the fame rule will hold ;
Alike fantastic, if too new or old :
Be not the first by whom the new are try'd
Nor yet the last to lay the old afide.




But moft by numbers judge a poet's fong; And fmooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong: In the bright Mufe tho' thoufand charms confpire, Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ; Who haunt Parnaffus but to please their ear, Not mend their minds; as fome to church repair, Not for the doctrine, but the mufc there. Thefe equal fyllables alone require, Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire ; While expletives their feeble aid do join ; And ten low words oft creep in one dull line:

VER. 337. But moft by numbers, etc.]

Quis populi fermo eft? quis enim? nifi carmina molli
Nunc demum numero fluere, ut per leve feveros
Effundat junctura ungues: fcit tendere verfum
Non fecus ac fi oculo rubricam dirigat uno.



neque manifefta, quia nil eft odiofius affectatione, nec utique "ab ultimis repetita temporibus. Oratio cujus fumma virtus eft "perfpicuitas, quam fit vitiofa, fi egeat interprete? Ergo ut novorum optima erunt maxime vetera, ita veterum maxime nova.” Idem.

VER. 328.unlucky as Fungofa, etc.] See Ben Johnson's Every Man in bis Humour


Perf. Sat. i.

VER. 345. Tho' oft the ear, etc.] "Fugiemus crebras vocalium "concurfiones, quæ vaftam atque hiantem orationem reddunt." Cic. ad Heren, lib. iv. Vide etiam Quint. lib. ix. c. 4.

While they ring round the fame unvary'd chimes,
With fure returns of ftill expected rhymes;
Where'er you find "the cooling western breeze," 350
In the next line it " whispers thro' the trees :"
If chrystal ftreams "with pleafing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with" fleep :"
Then, at the laft and only couplet fraught

With fome unmeaning thing they call a thought, 355
A needlefs Alexandrine ends the fong,

That, like a wounded fnake, drags its flow length along.
Leave fuch to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth, or languishingly flow;
And praise the eafy vigour of a line,
Where Denham's ftrength, and Waller's sweetness join,
True eafe in writing comes from art, not chance,
As thofe move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
"Tis not enough no harshness give offence,
The found muft feem an Echo to the fenfe:
Soft is the ftrain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud furges lafh the founding fhore,


The hoarfe, rough verfe should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax ftrives fome rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move flow:
Not fo, when fwift Camilla fcours the plain,
Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main,



VER. 366. Soft is the ftrain, etc.]

Tum fi læta canunt, etc. Vida Poet. 1. iii. ver. 403

VER. 368. But when loud furges, etc.]

Tum longe fale faxa fonant, etc. Vida ib. 388, VER. 370. When Ajax strives, etc.]

Atque ideo fi quid geritur molimine magno, etc.

VER. 372. Not fo, when fwift Camilla, etc.]
At mora fi fuerit damno, properare jubebo,

Vida ib. 417

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Hear how Timotheus' vary'd lays furprise,
And bid alternate paffions fall and rife!
While, at each change, the fan of Libyan Jove
Now burns with glory, and then melts with love;
Now his fierce eyes with fparkling fury glow,
Now fighs fteal out, and tears begin to flow:
Perfians and Greeks like turns of nature found, 380
And the world's vitor flood fubdu'd by found!
The pow'r of Mufic all our hearts allow,
And what Timotheus was, is DRYDEN now.

Avoid extremes; and fhun the fault of fuch,
Who ftill are pleas'd too little or too much.
At ev'ry trifle fcorn to take offence,
That always, fhews great pride, or little fenfe;
Those heads, as ftomachs, are not fure the best,
Which naufeate all, and nothing can digeft.
Yet let not each gay turn thy rapture move;
For fools admire, but men of fense approve:
As things feem large which we thro' mists desery,
Dulness is ever apt to magnify.

Some foreign writers, fome our own despise;
The Ancients only, or the Moderns prize;
Thus Wit, like Faith, by each man is apply'd
To one fmall fest, and all are damn'd befide.
Meanly they feek the bleffing to confine,
And force that fun but on a part to shine,
Which not alone the fouthern wit fublimes,
But ripens fpirits in cold northern climes;
Which from the first has fhone on ages past,
Enlights the prefent, and fhall warm the laft;
Tho' each may feel encreafes and decays,
And fee now clearer and now darker days.







VER. 374. Hear bow Timotheus, etc.] See Alexander's Feafs er the Power of Mufic; an Ode by Mr. Dryden.

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